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What you should know about dining out in Norway

Pictured is a group of people eating out.
Here's what Local's in Norway think about eating out in Norway. Pictured is a group of people eating out. Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash
Norway's international reputation on the food scene may not enjoy the reputation of its neighbours, but what can you expect if you take a night off from the kitchen in Norway and choose to go out to eat instead?

Locals opinions are varied 

“There are a lot of good things going on, but you just have to be very aware of where you’re going to grab a bite,” says Leeni from Oslo. Adding, “Fine dining scenery is great, but the casual world is not that developed. It’s more mediocre quality with a high price. That’s just my opinion.”

The fine-dining scene in Norway has grown in the past decade. Restaurants like Maaemo and Under are making a name for themselves both with local diners and the Michelin guide. 

Casual dining may not be quite as vibrant as the fine dining scene. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t find some good places.'” Even on the coast, it is hard to find a good fish restaurant. However, there is always pizza kebab, but we have some nice Thai food. Which might come in handy if you are a vegetarian and travelling outside of Oslo.” says Mireille Wulf

Lunch and breakfast

If you’re dining out in Norway, you may want to choose to go out to dinner instead of breakfast and lunch. Some bigger cities, such as Oslo and Trondheim, have started developing more of a weekend brunch and lunch scene. Though your options are nowhere near what they would be in comparison to other large cities in Europe. 

There is “No tradition for lunch here. Norwegians have always eaten bread and cheese and bread and liver paste for lunch. With a half-hour break, you don’t have time for more,” says Frances. It’s true, on the weekdays, 

Norwegians are very much no muss, no fuss when it comes to their meal choices. The matpakke or “packed lunch” dominates as the main source of food throughout the workday. 

“Many restaurants do not seem to open for lunch. Which is very strange for me, even after considering that many Norwegians in offices just eat cold sandwiches,” says Ankur.

If you’re looking to grab a bite to eat earlier in the day, local cafes will usually have a few selections to choose from, though they may not be warm. Think more ham or shrimp sandwiches than warm stews and pasta dishes. 

You could also choose to dine at a hotel if you want a more hearty breakfast than the pastry selection at the local cafe. Hotels all around the country usually offer drop prices for their surprisingly good breakfast buffets if you’re not staying with them.

And the coffee

Are you meeting a friend for coffee? You’ll likely have a few places to choose from. But be aware of some subtle differences in the size and temperature.

The “Portion sizes are small and extremely expensive, including the drinks. Coffee arrives warm and ends up needing to be finished quickly. No real need to sit at the coffee shop because your tiny cup size and room temperature makes the outing quick,” says Deon Van Zyl.

“My experience with coffee in shops/restaurants here is that it is served warm and not hot. I prefer my coffee hot. Just warm becomes cold even before the first sip when you take away a cup in the cold,” says Deepika Nowley. “Also, what surprised me at first was the word” dobblet “. I expected a larger cup, but it only meant a double espresso shot for the same cup size.” 

READ ALSO: Why is food in Norway so expensive?

Coffee and teas may be served a little cooler than you are used to, but you’ll likely never have a tough time finding a place that serves warm (not hot) drinks in this country. After the Finns, Norwegians consume the most coffee globally, averaging around 7,2 kilograms of coffee per person per year. They mostly prefer light roasts and without the extra fluff. However, most cafes will offer you the option of ordering milk-based coffee drinks.

Best way to pay and tipping culture

Tipping is not a customary practice in Norway. Those who work in the restaurant industry, both in casual and fine dining, are paid a decent wage and don’t have to rely on tips as they would in other countries. However, if you want to tip, feel free to do so. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to tack on some extra if you particularly enjoyed the service or food. 

“Most Norwegians use cashless methods to pay; and, when paying, it is not customary to tip for a handful of items or just a couple of drinks,” says Samantha Gross Galiando. Adding, “While Norwegians are known for their politeness, behaviour can vary depending on their age group and venue type.”

Payment methods, like most everything else in Norway, paying at a restaurant or cafe has, for the most part, become paper-free and digitized. Of course, you can still pay with cash. But you might have to end up waiting extra for your server to come up with the right amount of change back. Or you may even be asked to pay by a card or mobile pay instead. 

Forgot your wallet? That might be ok. Many restaurants accept payment by Vipps ( the most popular payment app in Norway) if that is your only option. You don’t want to assume this alternative is available in smaller towns or more rural areas. So try and remember to bring a backup method of payment just in case. 


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